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HRT shines Bright

Slick pit: HRT took Jason Bright from zero to hero with some sensational pit stops in the Clipsal 500.

Holden Racing Team came from behind for the third successive year on the streets of Adelaide

9 Apr 2001

HOLDEN Racing Team new recruit Jason Bright has charged to the top of the V8 Supercar championship ladder with a sensational victory in race two of the Clipsal 500 at Adelaide yesterday. Bright observed HRT tradition at Adelaide by coming from the back of the pack after an incident on lap one forced him to make two unscheduled pit stops to repair damage to the front left guard of his Commodore.

Clever pitstop strategy by HRT helped Bright work his way to the front by lap 43 and on to the chequered flag despite a last-gasp challenge from Russel Ingall in the Castrol Commodore.

"When I found myself at the back the team was saying to me over the radio 'Don't worry too much, we've won from the back before so just go smooth and fast and we'll try to make the right calls for you' and they certainly did," Bright said.

Ingall had to settle for second 1.25 seconds behind Bright, while a fast-finishing Steven Johnson brought his Shell Helix Falcon home in third after passing Glenn Seton a few laps from the flag.

"The car was a joy to drive all weekend and the team did a great job to make it so," Johnson said.

"I thought I was going okay until they told me where I was and I just had to pull my finger out and pass a few blokes. I bided my time and tried to make sure of clean passing moves." V8 Supercar rookie Dean Canto made a sensational exit from the race on lap 40 with brake failure, spinning his Falcon into the wall at turn nine but escaping unhurt.

Defending series champion Mark Skaife was running second behind Bright but dropped to 13th after spinning at the same turn as Canto when he missed a gear.

He then clashed with former teammate Craig Lowndes but came off the better of the two, surviving to finish ninth.

Lowndes showed the others a clean set of wheels in the early stages establishing a three-second lead, but two safety car periods in the first 10 laps brought him back to the field.

Bad timing with the compulsory pit stops then left him outside the top 10, which is where he had the run-in with Skaife after setting a new lap record in his charge back to the front.

The damage sustained by his Gibson Motorsport Falcon left him sitting on the side of the road 20 laps from the finish.

The weekend had looked set to be a Lowndes whitewash after a win in race one was followed by wife Natalie easily winning the celebrity challenge.

Race one on Saturday produced some of the most intense racing yet seen in V8 Supercars, with a number of duels being fought right up until the flag in what was effectively a 250km sprint race rather than a test of endurance.

Lowndes scored a remarkable victory in only his second championship start with Ford.

He had previously been the Holden hero in Adelaide, winning three of the past four races there for HRT.

Johnson made it a Ford quinella finishing 10.2 seconds behind Lowndes, with Ingall a further four seconds back in third.

The brand new car of Ford favourite Paul Radisich copped a battering in its first outing.

The Shell Helix driver first unloaded Skaife into a spin when he was continually baulked for several laps, before having his rear suspension collapse after sliding wide exiting a corner and nudging the concrete wall.

Pole-sitter Greg Murphy also had his race turn sour when he was forced to drive straight through pit lane after missing his pit garage, losing plenty of time.

Then his steering broke, causing his K-Mart Commodore to plough into a tyre barrier and out of the race.

The three lead drivers from this round - Bright, Ingall and Johnson - plus Skaife who dominated the opening round at Phillip Island, now have a buffer to the rest of the field in the overall standings as the Shell championship series heads to Sydney's Eastern Creek circuit for round three on April 28-29.

RACE ONE RESULTS 1. Craig Lowndes - Falcon 2. Steven Johnson - Falcon 3. Russell Ingall - Commodore 4. Mark Skaife - Commodore 5. Steven Ellery - Falcon 6. Garth Tander - Commodore 7. Jason Bright - Commodore 8. John Bowe - Falcon 9. Jason Bargwanna - Commodore 10. Dean Canto - Falcon RACE TWO RESULTS 1. Jason Bright - Commodore 2. Russell Ingall - Commodore 3. Steven Johnson - Falcon 4. Glenn Seton - Falcon 5. Todd Kelly - Commodore 6. Marcus Ambrose - Falcon 7. Steven Richards - Falcon 8. Larry Perkins - Commodore 9. Mark Skaife - Commodore 10. Greg Murphy - Commodore DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP 1. Jason Bright (Holden Racing Team - Commodore) 703 2. Mark Skaife (Holden Racing Team - Commodore) 628 3. Russell Ingall (Castrol Perking Racing - Commodore) 620 4. Steven Johnson (Shell Helix Racing - Falcon) 608 5. Todd Kelly (K-Mart Racing Team - Commodore) 497 6. Steven Richards (Ford Tickford Racing - Falcon) 475 7. Glenn Seton (Ford Tickford Racing - Falcon) 454 8. Craig Lowndes (Gibson Motorsport - Falcon) 451 9. Marcos Ambrose (Pirtek Racing - Falcon) 443 10. Greg Murphy (K-Mart Racing Team - Commodore) 411

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